How to review your health and safety policy

Get to grips with how to scrutinise your school or trust's health and safety policy. Download our model policy to see what good looks like and see examples of policies from primary, secondary and special schools.

Last reviewed on 16 April 2024See updates
Ref: 38460
Statutory/mandatory for:
Maintained schools
Academies
Free schools
Independent schools
Sixth-form colleges
Further education
Pupil referral units
Contents
  1. Key facts
  2. What this policy needs to do
  3. 3 questions to challenge the policy 
  4. Download our model policy 
  5. Examples from schools and trusts

Key facts

  • This policy is statutory
  • The board determines the review cycle, but it's recommended it's reviewed annually
  • The appointed health and safety lead will write the policy, with the employer and its health and safety advisers
  • The employer will be responsible for the implementation of this policy

This information is set out in the DfE's list of statutory policies within the governance guides for maintained schools and academies, and its non-statutory guidance on health and safety for schools..

What this policy needs to do

While schools and trusts must have a health and policy in place, there's no specific version they must follow.

Section 3 of the DfE's non-statutory guidance suggests what your school's health and safety policy should contain. 

Every health and safety policy contains 4 elements

  1. Plan – leaders should set the direction for effective health and safety management
  2. Do – introduce management systems and practices that deal with risks sensibly, responsibly and proportionately
  3. Check – monitoring and reporting
  4. Act – a formal management review of health and safety performance

It should be proportionate and relevant to your school

Your policy should include:

  • A general policy statement
  • Who's responsible for what 
  • Arrangements for risk assessments and practical control measures in place to reduce risk
  • How your school will establish, monitor and review its measures to make sure it meets health and safety standards

The specifics of every school or trust's policy will look slightly different to fit their individual context. Here are some examples of what else could be included:

  • Proportionate control measures for health infections
  • Line management responsibilities
  • Arrangements for regular site inspections
  • Staff health and safety training, including risk assessment at work
  • Recording and reporting accidents to staff, pupils and visitors
  • Procedures for off-site visits, such as residential visits
  • Dealing with health and safety emergencies
  • First aid for staff and pupils (if there isn't a separate first aid policy)
  • Occupational health services
  • How schools with investigate accidents and incidents

3 questions to challenge the policy 

1. How will we know this policy is working and that it's being properly implemented?

It's working if it's being followed and used, and everyone is able to put the policy into action.

For example, you'll know it's effective if:

  • Your school's health and safety procedures are being followed at all times
  • Accidents and incidents are recorded and investigated properly 

Your school's health and safety lead will be the staff member in charge of implementing the policy. They can show you case studies to support what they tell you. 

Your health and safety link governor can ask your senior leaders questions throughout the year to monitor the policy's implementation.

2. Have staff received adequate health and safety training and do they feel confident implementing the policy?

School leaders should be able to explain:

  • How relevant staff receive health and safety training
  • How they keep track of which staff have had health and safety training, and how this training is refreshed and updated as needed

They might use a staff training log or survey results to show that staff feel confident with following health and safety requirements. 

3. Does it work within the context of our school?

School leaders should explain how the policy is proportionate and relevant to your school. 

It should account for things specific to your school site, such as a minibus or swimming pool.

Multi-academy trusts (MATs): further questions for trustees and local governors

Download our model policy 

Model policy for schools

Model trust-wide policy for MATs

Examples from schools and trusts

Schools

The examples below also include a statement of intent. This usually forms part of a school's health and safety policy, although some schools choose to produce a separate health and safety statement of intent.

Trusts

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